The Good: The president had strong language for backing real derivative reforms.
The Bad: Vague language about the “Volcker rule” will not stop Too Big To Fail; but a plan like this (or even one like this) for breaking up the current mega-banks and limiting their liabilities will.
The Missing: NONE of this matters while our cops still work for the crooks.
Our main form of protection against these kinds of financial criminals, the SEC, remains woefully underfunded. The revolving door between government regulators and the high-paying banks they supposedly regulate remains as fluid as ever. And does it get any scarier than White House Counsel jumping from President Obama’s side one day to Lloyd Blankfein’s the next? Actually, I guess it does when institutions that should fear the government instead now just declare all-out war.
But what is the final backstop that is supposed to protect us next time around under this new plan? Well, Secretary Timothy Geithner explained today on Morning Joe that they would be able to stop the next bailout if only they had the authority to do so. Then finally, they could do things like wipe out equity holders, replace management… you know, kind of like the same steps that they were somehow magically able to do with GM.
But we all know the truth — no one will do that to the banks until they are no longer Too Big To Fail. As William Black so eloquently told Congress this week, Mr. Geithner and Chairman Bernanke already had that chance to do this to the big banks last time around and they chickened out.